Dan Moore Jr. has played every snap of his career for which he has been healthy as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting left tackle since he was drafted in 2021. It’s now fair to wonder if he will ever play another snap in that role again.
The Steelers traded up in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft to secure the opportunity to select Georgia left tackle Broderick Jones, who is now the favorite to be the starter at that position in week one, though he’ll have to earn it first. While Moore won’t cede the position without a fight, he’s still in the young blood’s corner.
“He’s a smart kid, crazy athletic, crazy ability”, he told reporters about the rookie, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m excited to watch him grow”.
Jones is the first offensive lineman the Steelers have drafted in the first two rounds since 2012, when they went back-to-back at the position with David DeCastro in the first round and then Mike Adams in the second. One would have to go back to the Bill Cowher era to trace back to the last time they drafted a tackle in the first round.
Moore, though, is one of several mid-round tackles the Steelers have brought in, in his case a fourth-round selection out of Texas A&M. Projected to be the swing tackle as a rookie in 2021, a setback in Zach Banner’s recovery from a torn ACL forced him into the starting lineup that year late in August and the only game he’s missed since was due to injury.
While his play has frequently come under fire, he has made strides in certain key areas and should be at the top of his game in 2023, whatever that might represent. He appeared to take well to new offensive line coach Pat Meyer’s instructions once he got adjusted to them. But he’ll have to fend off Jones now if he wants to keep his job. Not that he’s dwelling on it.
“What’s done is done”, Dulac quoted him as saying about the fact that the Steelers used a first-round draft pick to add to his position. “All I can do is focus on me and control what I can control, and that’s getting better each and every day”.
Moore only has experience playing on the left side, outside of some work playing right tackle during training camp and the preseason of his rookie year in 2021. With Jones likely to get plenty of first-team reps at left tackle over the course of the summer, it seems inevitable that Moore will be asked to brush up on his ambidexterity, because there’s a good chance he’ll wind up as the swing tackle, as he was intended to be back in 2021.
Of course, Jones still has to earn his job. He’s not going to be handed the keys to the starting lineup regardless of where he was drafted. The Steelers didn’t do it for quarterback Kenny Pickett last year and they’re not going to do it for the Bulldog. Like it or not, Pittsburgh actually likes Moore and what he can do, so he’ll have to have that job taken away from him.